How To Prevent Pumpkin Waste: Making Autumn More Sustainable
October 19, 2023
Want to know something truly spooky? Each year, 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins end up in landfills after Halloween. This is a huge missed opportunity considering how delicious and nutritious pumpkins are! We want to suggest some alternatives to make your visit to the pumpkin patch more sustainable, and give you some more fun activities to celebrate the fall harvest!
- Invest in reusable pumpkin decorations to use each season. This can be an opportunity for crafts with the family by making papier-mâché jack-o-lanterns, or buying something pre-carved. This way, when Halloween is over, you aren’t left with a mushy, mostly dead pumpkin on the porch that will ultimately contribute to greenhouse gases.
- Save the pumpkin guts when you carve! After you’ve created your jack-o-lantern masterpiece, save the seeds and roast them with some salt for a tasty snack. The pulp can also be used in several ways: Purée it and then add to rice or risotto for added flavor. Try adding the purée mixture to your morning oatmeal, or freeze it and save it for a flavorful additive to a homemade chicken or vegetable broth.
- Make a bird feeder. By adding birdseed to an emptied-out pumpkin, local wildlife can get in on the pumpkin joy!
- Check out some classic pumpkin recipes. After you’ve selected the perfect pumpkins for your fall photo shoot, save them and turn them into some mouth-watering treats. Pumpkin pie is a classic go-to, but there are a lot more things you can create from the whole pumpkin, like calabaza en tacha. Or if you’re more of a savory fan, check out this We Don’t Waste recipe for pumpkin alfredo.
- Create pumpkin chips! If you have a dehydrator, this simple hack creates a nutrient-dense and richly flavorful snack from the rinds of the pumpkin. Peel off the pumpkin skin (make sure you peel large sections, as high water content means they’ll shrink right up as they dehydrate) and crisp them in a dehydrator with a sprinkling of paprika and sea salt. Bake them at 220°F for 20-30 minutes or until pumpkin chips begin to crisp. Turn off oven and let pumpkins sit in the oven while the oven cools. Remove the chips after about 20 minutes, they should be crunchy. Dust with cinnamon, and enjoy!
- Add pumpkins to the compost when you’re done. Be sure to cut it into smaller pieces to allow the rind to decompose more quickly, and add carbon-heavy additives like leaves, newspaper, or wood ash to balance out your mixture. Want to learn more about composting? Check out our blog on composting here.
Want to find more ways to reduce waste in your kitchen at home? Check out more tips on our education page!